"Have you visited Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Million Ringgit Tunnel at Sasana Kijang, Kuala Lumpur? Did you know a million ringgits wasted just to make a fun tunnel for kids in the BNM Children's Gallery? The tunnel used real legal tender paper money with a face value of 1 million Ringgit, in my last visit there, I can only see my childrens in the gallery. What is the purpose of Million Ringgit Tunnel?"
A friend asked me during my teh tarik mamak session with few other friends on a Sunday morning. The questions do not end there.
"Do you realize how many Malaysia banknotes special prefix number in the tunnel?"
"Do you know how many 500 ringgit and 1000 ringgit notes in the tunnel?"
I just listen to what he want to says.
"Majority of the the banknotes in the tunnel are the old series, do you know how much money BNM can donate if they auction the banknote instead of BNM auctioning the current series special prefix banknotes on 27 September? Bank Negara should teach children to appreciate our Malaysian banknotes but instead they show how million Ringgit can be presented to childrens in this way."
I know the tunnel is using the real banknotes but I never thought of it like this. What I knew is that the 'Million Ringgit Tunnel' located in the Children's Gallery, Ground Floor, Sasana Kijang. The Tunnel is made up of all four series of Malaysian banknotes consisting of all denominations that total more than RM1 million in value. It suppose to attract the attention of children but in my opinion the parents was more interested in the tunnel compared with their kids. The tunnel has been opened since 15 September 2012.
I had the opportunity to visit the tunnel recently and almost cannot believe it, what my friend said is real. I can see many special prefix banknotes in the tunnel and some solid number notes are from the 4th series. I know for most of the BNM staff the banknotes prices are only on the denomination that written on the paper but why don't they check with collector first? A million ringgit for BNM staff might be a 5 million Ringgit in collector value.
Here are some of the fancy number banknotes that I can find:
Some of the notes are damaged because of mishandling and some are on severe folding because of its location at the edge of the tunnel.
I also found part of the tunnel (where plastic parts are connected) has been opened or maybe because the tunnel is over 2 years old and poorly maintained?
BNM need to look back, what is the purpose of Million Ringgit Tunnel? Whether it is able to attract the attention of visitors to Sasana Kijang or it is more suitable to be auctioned and the money from the auction donated to the chosen orphanage. Two years after the tunnel open, I don't see a real crowd coming to Sasana Kijang like what we can see in Museum Negara or childrens coming to the BNM museum just want to see the tunnel. If it is a waste of money, BNM should transfer the money from the tunnel project to something more beneficial to society.
Malaysia Numismatic Society (MNS) will held their 3rd auction for 2014 at Muzium Negara, Jalan Petalawati, Kuala Lumpur on 28 September. The MNS Auction No. 161 is open to all Malaysian but you need to be a MNS members to be allowed to join the bidding. The auction normally start at 10.30am and will finish around 1.00pm.
238 lots will be offered by the society with a variety of collections; Malaysia comemmorative coins, Malaysia Parliament coins, Bank Negara Souvenir tokens, Malaysia banknotes, Malaya & British Borneo banknotes, Singapore banknotes, Malaysia replacement banknotes, Malaysia error coins, Straits Settlements coins, Tin coins, Medallions, JIM notes, Books and other items that related to numismatic. You can view the item list and pictures via MNS official bloggger site, Sifu Dickson Niew; MNS Auction 161.
There will be Bourse Tables available at RM 50.00 per table. Members interested, please book your tables with payments to Mr Tan Tai Seng (03-79835011) at least one week before the auction.
Anyone who attained the age of 18 years and resident in Malaysia may apply to be an Ordinary Member. Entrance fee for ordinary member is RM20.00 and RM40.00 for annual subscription fee. Anyone who is over 12 years but below the age of 18 and resident in Malaysia may apply to be a Junior Member. The Entrance Fee for Junior Members is RM5.00 and Annual Subscription is RM15.00. Kindly download the Application Form and send it to the Society either via post, fax or e-mail for approval. You can read more about MNS here: Malaysia Numismatic Society membership.
MNS usually organized their auction 4 times a year. They don't have any online bid auction but they do provide Mail bids for their members. All mail bids must reach the society 5 days before the auction. You can read more about it in their website.
Among Malaysia numismatic community, many already knew on 27 September 2014, MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd will be conducting the 1st public auction of Malaysian banknotes with special serial numbers on behalf of Bank Negara Malaysia. They're some questions that play in our mind about the real purpose of the auction, whether they're selling special serial numbers or provide equal opportunity to public?
The best answer that I can think is that the auction real purpose is to gain profit, the same purpose as the other auctions house around the world. It it wrong to gain profit from auction? In my opinion it is a normal thing, they have done nothing wrong.
However, Bank Negara Malaysia and MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd need to look at some of the collectors requirements when selling their collection. At this point, both of them forget or don't care about the grade of the banknotes they're selling. Banknote grading is also an important thing to collectors. They need to clarifies the banknote grade is it Uncirculated or otherwise. The grade of the banknotes are as important as the special prefix numbers. The higher the grade, the better price for the banknotes.
Bank Negara Malaysia and MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd also don't understand that pictures doesn't help collectors to decide what are the grade for the banknotes. In their latest statement, MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd said that the banknotes to be auctioned will not be available for viewing at their office or during auction. Image of selected banknotes can be viewed at MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd website. They don't do any public viewing for the banknotes that they want to auction, its like they want to force collector to gamble for their purchase.
Do they think normal people will buy special prefix for their collection?
I myself never buy any special prefix banknotes for my collection. Special prefix banknotes have their own fan, not everyone collect that kind of banknotes. General Public don't want to waste their money buying a 1 Ringgit notes for RM200, only collectors will do that kind of thing.
Collectors who want to buy the notes need to expect that most of the notes might not be in Uncirculated condition.
Another issue that they might be looking for is that the starting price for some of the notes are very high compare to the current market price but since this is their 1st auction, the result after the auction ended on September 27 will give us the answer.
At this moment, some collector also see this auction as a way to flood the market with special prefix numbers. Do you know how much special prefix numbers in Bank Negara Malaysia Collection? Have you go to Sasana Kijang before and walk under the 1 Million Ringgit tunnel? Can you count how many special prefix numbers in that tunnel itself? Most of the special prefix notes in the tunnel are the 4th series banknotes. Can you guess how much such notes in Bank Negara Malaysia vault?
Other important issue that they need to look at is how their staff handle the banknotes? Do they teach their staff the right way to handle banknotes and do their staff follow what was taught to them?
Bank Negara Malaysia and MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd should learn from Mavin International and Monetary Authority of Singapore. Bank Negara Malaysia should make sure the auction are done properly and not only focus on selling special prefix banknotes in their collection.
This is just a free advice from a normal numismatic blogger. I know they don't listen and they don't care because they're expecting people will be buying their items.
Good Luck for the 1st public auction of Malaysian banknotes with special serial numbers to Bank Negara Malaysia and MNP Auctioneers Sdn Bhd.